The House on Foulness

John Ohno
12 min readJul 27, 2018

2nd April, 1919

Dearest Mary,

It might seem childish of me to keep writing this diary in the form of letters to you after so many years, but I am still working toward our promise in my own way. Perhaps, by the time I get to Paris, you will already be there — perhaps the streets will no longer be full of dull bureaucrats!

I have taken the position of governess to a pair of children, at an estate on the coast, in a town nearby to S — — called Foulness. What a queer name! I shall be traveling there for most of tomorrow. In this way, I squirrel away savings for the trip.

3rd April, 1919

My dearest Mary,

Foulness is indeed an appropriate name! The stench of the neighbouring salt marsh pervades this town, and those strange oversized marsh insects buzz in tight circles in every corner of the town. It is uncomfortably hot in the sun and uncomfortably cold in the shade. The people here look wind-beaten. They gather in tight little knots on street corners, glaring at strangers and pursing their preternaturally wrinkled lips as if to spit. The rocky shore surrounds the town proper on three sides, with knots of rotting seaweed and trash deposited in this or that crevice, and the color of the sky ranges from white to gray.

The estate where I will be working is on a small rocky island across the marsh, and a low bridge of stones apparently connects it to the town proper, though this is now covered by the tides. There is no ferry out…



John Ohno

Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software.